Our Time by Angela Rieck

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Our Time

 

It is disheartening to see the current presidential landscape. Both the Republican and Democratic front runners are senior citizens.  As a fellow senior citizen, I am disappointed.

In negotiating this thing called retirement, one of the hardest adjustments for me was giving up power.  Working gave me a financial reward, a social incentive, and, often, a major ego boost. As an executive and a board president, I found that frankly, just my showing up in a room was cause for celebration.  People listened to me, some admired me, but all respected me. I’ll admit, it was intoxicating. But throughout this time, I tried to remember that it was the position that was being respected and not necessarily the person.

Retirement, on the other hand, has proven to be a difficult adjustment, probably because it was unexpected and unplanned. (I retired to care for my late husband.) I had enjoyed my career; I couldn’t envision not having one.

I remember Bill Clinton’s lament after leaving office that his phone had stopped ringing. Retirement offers no harried schedule, no one to meet, no business trip to travel to, no conference to attend, no speech to give, no one to manage my daily activities and, no one to boss around.  

In retirement, our worth is not measured by a salary or adulation. It is measured by our ability to appreciate all that we have been given.

I believe it is critical that we retire and relinquish power to the next generation; to take time to reflect, to savor the things that we never had time to enjoy.  It is an opportunity to appreciate life, relationships and cherish them before they are taken away.

More importantly, it is our duty to give the next generation a chance to determine the world that they will live in.  They, not us, will live in a world with climate change, population growth, declining fossil fuel reserves and scarcer water resources.  They will fund social security and Medicare. They will suffer the consequences of civil and women’s rights being chipped away. And they will have to shoulder the burden of the rapidly accelerating national debt.

Our generation has the wealth, the connections, the privileges and the resources to remain in power.  But it is nobler for us to give this up, to let the next generation govern.

It is time to check our egos, step down and let the next generation determine its own fate.

Angela Rieck, a Caroline County native, received her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland and worked as a scientist at Bell Labs, and other high-tech companies in New Jersey before retiring as a corporate executive. Angela and her dogs divide their time between St Michaels and Key West Florida. Her daughter lives and works in New York City.

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Letters to Editor

  1. Frederick S. Patt says

    Well stated. As someone who is not that far from retirement, I agree that Biden and Sanders have had their moment, and that we need fresh faces (and ideas) to lead us into the future. I don’t understand why these two are currently leading in the polls.

  2. Matthew Daley says

    Bravo Ms. Rieck!

  3. John Michael Kramer says

    While there is something to be said for Dr Rieck’s point of view, particularly about giving oneself fully to retirement, I feel on balance it undermines the value of the contributions that people of retirement age can make to society and their communities. Is Dr. Riecke’s argument not ageist? That the author is of such an age, does not make it any more valid than racist or sexist ones. To be sure society does not treat ageism or ageist remarks with anything near the severity of sex and racial offenses. Will ageism too have its time, #graypower?

    In my case I currently contribute through working about half time on short-term assessment, project planning, and evaluation assignments in a way that, I feel, takes good advantage of my close to 50 years of preparation and experience. I do not think society would be better off if I, and folk like me, stood aside solely on the basis of our age to make space for our youngers. Isn’t it unnecessarily zero sum? Perhaps at Dr Rieck’s level there is little space for more than one actor at a time, but the article generalized and it wasn’t limited to leaders, CEOs, or politicians. Power is not limited to top levels. Just a few steps away from the executive suite starting with my upper management level and extending down the corporate ladder, there is plenty of room for people of all ages to work collaboratively each bringing value to the group, all learning and growing in a win-win fashion. I submit that overall group effectiveness would be lessened through our absence.

    Finally, while I didn’t understand the article to be about the current political machinations, as one comment noted, it certainly would apply; ultimately there can only be one nominee and one President. But I would object to even the suggestion that any candidate above XX years old should stand aside. We don’t need to artificially increase the electoral chances of young or middle aged candidates by asking Joe and Bernie to voluntarily stand aside. What about Elizabeth? Let all arguably qualified candidates stand and say their piece and the voters decide.

  4. Leslie Roche says

    Bravo!

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